While most adults have long put their disruptive teen tendencies behind them, Jane Huxley uses them to profoundly transform the way we live our lives.
Having occupied the forefront of digital change for over 25 years, the Managing Director of Pandora Australia and New Zealand is never happier than when employing a mindset that once invited admonishment and chagrin.
“Strangely, ‘disruptive’ is a word that was a regular feature of my high school reports,” she recalls with a laugh. “In fact, there was rarely a time when my mum crossed the threshold of the school without having to get me out of the principal’s office.”
Since her early days at Microsoft, upsetting the apple cart and challenging established norms have become a highly effective career development model for the Dubbo native.
“When I look at the places I’ve been, each company has been disruptive in one way or another,” she says. “At Microsoft back in ’89, there was a vision that there’d one day be a computer on every desktop and in every home. As crazy as we thought our task was, we were really trying to disrupt mainframe computing, word-processing and centralised IT. I really got a taste for it.”
Subsequent career stops saw her move to Vodafone, working to essentially disrupt the traditional landline paradigm and helping to usher in the era of remote working, mobile handset proliferation and internet-based services and data. A period as Chief Executive of Fairfax Digital followed, driving a process of ‘self disruption’ as audiences began moving en masse from traditional print to web-based consumption of news and entertainment. Then came the chance to link up with US-based personalised Internet radio giant Pandora.
“When this opportunity came up, I just knew it was the job I needed to get,” says Jane, who completed a Graduate Certificate in Change Management at AGSM in 2011. “We are driven by the thought of disrupting traditional radio. It’s the same game, but a very different market with its own set of challenges.”
So does Jane find reward in driving change itself, or from the technical challenges encountered in actually making it happen?
“Fulfillment for me comes from believing that what I’m doing is creating a greater good,” she says. “I know that sounds grand, but we really believed that personal computers were a better way; we really believed that mobiles were a better way, and that consuming news digitally was a better way. And here at Pandora, we really believe that streaming radio and just listening to music you love is a better way. There’s something really fulfilling in believing in the purpose of the company you’re working for. It’s that pioneering spirit of seeking something over the next horizon that’s going to be awesome.”